Sunday, September 20, 2009

Vegetable Chowder from "The Moosewood Cookbook" Inspires a Quarter Century of Food Memories

My cooking obsession seems to have begun and ended with the Moosewood Cookbook. I've been several of the follow-ups, both from Mollie Katzen, and the Collective (who split after the second book, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest), but I never found more than a recipe or two that touched my fancy. In the original, I've made more than 20 of them numerous times.

This comes to mind, having just finished my annual preparation of Vegetable Chowder, using as much produce from the South Shore Farmer's Market as I could. You have to wait until late in the season, cool enough for the broccoli and cauliflower to return. This season I also got my potatoes, onions, and garlic from there, but had to go elsewhere for carrots (because I forgot), mushrooms (because this year there's no mushroom stand) and celery (because you cannot buy celery in Wisconsin. I don't know why but I assume it's too cold).

I also bought some heirloom cherry tomatoes from Ken, but those were eaten in about ten minutes (and I bought two packages).

There are two copies of the Moosewood on my cooking shelf, having bought a second copy when Mollie Katzen jiggered the recipes. In the end, some of her "get rid of all butter" initiatives have fallen out of favor. This recipe dropped from one stick to one teaspoon; my soup had something between the two. My obsession with the book started in New Hampshire, not too far geographically from Ithaca. I've been making broccoli mushroom noodle casserole ever since, and I have pencilled in notes that reflect my changing tastes.

So it's nice to see that the book, though not the sales dynamo it once was, still has some life in it. We sold one at the store last week. The book outlasted Katzen's association with the Moosewood, and it outlasted Ten Speed itself, the publisher that earlier this year was sold to Random House.

I love a comment I heard from some Random Houser (and I know scores, so you'll never know who leaked this anecdote) about the purchase. Well into the process, Ten Speed made mention of Tricycle Press, their kids' line.

"You have kids' books?", a rather surprise executive replied. Apparently, this was substantially into the purchase negotiations. It's probably not true, but I like it anyway.

1 comment:

john eklund said...

The Moosewood Cookbook is so much more interesting (and friendly) than the Moosewood restaurant itself. Beans & Barley is so much better- where's their cookbook? But if you ever find yourself in downtown Ithaca NY it may be worth a visit because there's an excellent independent bookseller- Buffalo Street Books- in the same building. It's actually on Cayuga street, don't be confused.